Moderna Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in Singapore, first shipment expected in March

A medical worker prepares a syringe with a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Brussels, as part of the vaccination campaign in Belgium on Feb 2, 2021. — Reuters pic
A medical worker prepares a syringe with a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Brussels, as part of the vaccination campaign in Belgium on Feb 2, 2021. — Reuters pic

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SINGAPORE, Feb 4 — The authorities have approved the use of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine here for individuals aged 18 and above, with the first shipment expected to arrive in March.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a statement yesterday that it has granted interim authorisation for the vaccine, after finding it to be 94 per cent effective.

HSA had reviewed data from pre-clinical studies, clinical trials in human volunteers, and manufacturing and quality controls.

Two groups of experts from HSA’s medicines advisory committee and panel of infectious diseases experts were consulted during the review to ensure that the vaccine is “safe, efficacious and of good quality based on the data submitted to-date, and that the benefits outweigh the known risks for the Singapore population”.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement yesterday that it will progressively roll out the vaccine for individuals aged 18 and above when shipments arrive.

“We expect the first shipment to arrive around March 2021, if there are no disruptions to the shipment schedule,” said MOH.

This is the second vaccine to be approved here, after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved in December.MOH said that as of Tuesday, more than 175,000 individuals have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. About 6,000 of them have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.

“In two weeks’ time, they will be adequately protected against Covid-19,” MOH said.

HSA said that based on the data from clinical trials to-date, the safety profile of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine was “generally consistent with other registered vaccines used in immunisation against other diseases”.

Some common side effects that vaccine recipients may experience include pain, swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, fever, chills, vomiting, and joint pain after vaccination.

“These symptoms are reactions generally associated with vaccinations and expected as part of the body’s natural response so as to build immunity against Covid-19,” HSA added.

“These side effects usually resolve on their own within a few days.”HSA added that consistent with all vaccines, there will always be a small proportion of people who may experience severe allergic reactions upon vaccination.

“They include those with a history of anaphylaxis — rapid onset of severe allergic reactions — or severe or multiple allergies to medicines and food,” HSA said.

“In such cases, immediate medical attention should be sought.”

As a precaution, anyone with a history of anaphylaxis or severe or multiple allergies to medicines or food should not receive the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, HSA added.

Pregnant women, severely immuno-compromised persons and those under the age of 18 should not receive the vaccine, as the safety and efficacy data for these groups of individuals are not available yet, the authority said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, on the other hand, is not for pregnant women, severely immuno-compromised persons and those under the age of 16 for the same reason of insufficient data, the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination had said in December.

The committee, which was set up to make recommendations on Singapore’s vaccination strategy, said yesterday that it has independently reviewed the Moderna vaccine’s safety and efficacy data for different population segments in Singapore.

The vaccine demonstrated a high vaccine efficacy, the committee said, and its safety profile is “consistent with the standards set for other registered vaccines used in the immunisation against other diseases”. — TODAY

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